Saturday, May 21, 2011

Oxfordiana, Pt 2

Time for another round?

The Couscous Cafe is on the Cowley road a block from the big roundabout. They serve some great mint tea, but really what I love this place for is the pastries. I never pass by (or near!) without stopping by to buy half a dozen, at least. Little packages of loveliness made with honey, rosewater, almond flour, ground walnuts, pistachios. I am always tempted to buy one of everything, but that would be sugar overload. Also, as each one is only a couple of bites at best, The Limey and I are sometimes too selfish to share.

Continuing along the Cowley road:

As they (didn't) say: You can take the girl out of California, but you can't take California out of the girl. I have undeniable hippy tendencies. I cut it with a lot of cynicism, but there's no getting away from it. Indigo sells fairtrade clothing, accessories and little bits and bobs. There is lots I roll my eyes at (incense, magnetic "remedies", etc.) but it's one of the few places in Oxford I can reliably find good-looking ethically-produced clothing, and wearables made from environmentally-conscious cotton and fabrics, etc. Yes, it is slightly pricey, but I do not live at the poverty line, so I can afford some of my convictions. Plus, their sales are really very good.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

A little bit of everything

In this post, I shall write about one event that combines the Oxfordiana series, a little knitting, and a special bit I will call "crazy shit the English do".

Today is May Day, which is celebrated around the world mostly by workers demanding better lives and working conditions, but is celebrated in Oxford pretty differently.

File under Oxfordiana
It starts at dawn, with choirs singing from Magdalen College's tower to greet the day.

Apparently, people used to jump off the bridge into the river below (possibly encouraged by the blood alcohol levels reached from having spent the previous night drinking in order to be up to greet the dawn), but they've stopped that now.

I have to admit I did not actually join the celebrations. I was supposed to be at the Botanic Gardens, across the river from Magdalen College, at dawn, but numbers had to be cut at the last minute, and I wasn't actually going to be useful there. (To be honest, I was pretty happy not to have to get up before dawn and trudge down there. Dawn, people!)

File under "Crazy shit the English do"
But what was going on there?

Oh yes: Morris dancing. I've been living here for three years now, and there are things I never cease to be baffled by. Morris dancing is one of them. (As is separate taps, but we won't rehash that.) In retrospect, I should have seen this coming from miles away. Crazy facial hair? Check. Ponytail? Check. Unholy love of real ale? Check. So I should not have been surprised when The Limey joined Cry Havoc, our local Morris side.

He does not dance for them (yet), but plays the fiddle. I didn't get to see them dance at the Botanic Gardens, but I did go see them later in the day at our local Botley shopping area and in Osney Island, where these pictures are from.

And the knitting?

Gloves with fingers short enough so they don't hinder playing. Knit in Cry Havoc's black and purple colours. Hey, it may be the beginning of summer, but it's feckin' cold at dawn!